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Wyoming Governor Proposes New Center to Test Markets for Carbon, EOR

With one of the nation's most fossil fuel-intense state economies, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is pushing a state/private sector initiative for a new testing center at the University of Wyoming to find ways to effectively store carbon dioxide (CO2) to develop markets for carbon and enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

The governor wants a "world-class research center,” said a spokesperson.

EOR is used extensively by many onshore exploration and production companies, including ExxonMobil Corp. Magellan Petroleum Corp. last year was approved to drill five wells at Poplar Dome in Roosevelt County, MT, a final requirement to begin drilling for its EOR pilot program (see Shale Daily, Aug. 13, 2013).

Mead thinks captured carbon eventually would have "significant potential" as another state-produced resource.

"Wyoming and many private companies have invested significantly in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research, and I want to advance the conversation to look at what happens when CCS technology is commercially viable.”

Mead wants the state legislature set aside $15 million to cover initial start-up costs to create the research center. He said there is a lot of demand in the state already for CO2 for use in EOR.

"Wyoming is home to the largest coal mines in the United States and provides 40% of the nation's coal," said the Mead spokesperson. "Coal in turn provides 37% of America's electricity." Mead also proposed that state lawmakers be part of an advanced conversion technology task force.

More recently, officials with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which supplies 44 cooperative power utilities over four states including Wyoming, told a meeting of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority that it is interested in helping develop technology to turn CO2 emissions into a more valuable asset.

Tri-State Vice President Jim Spiers said the company would prefer to have state policies in place before technology. The company is raising money for a $10 million technology prize through the California-based X Prize Foundation. More attention is being given to CO2 capture, Spiers said, because it has proven uneconomic to reduce CO2 by modifying coal-fired plants to run on natural gas.

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